FA gets £1.6m ‘warning’ to up grass-roots participation

Embarrassing cut driven by desire to increase efforts about falling number of players

Sports News Correspondent

The Football Association has had its public funding for the grass-roots game cut by £1.6m as a “warning” shot fired by Sport England for failing to halt a near decade-long decline in the number of adults playing football.

The money will still be made available to the game with Sport England appealing for clubs to become more directly involved in supporting the grass-roots. It may be the equivalent of five-and-a-half weeks’ work for Wayne Rooney under his new contract, but the decision to divert the funds away from the FA is a significant embarrassment for the governing body.

An irked FA responded with a barrage of information via social media outlining its grass-roots work, pointing out it invests around £50m a year, a figure that dwarfs its funding cut.

Sport England, the quango which funnels public money to sport and is charged with raising participation, awarded the FA £30m for a three-year period and in August agreed to the FA’s plan for raising numbers. In October, the latest results of the six-monthly survey revealed another decline for the sport. Since Sport England’s active people survey began in 2005 the number of those aged 16 and over playing football once a week has fallen from 2.02m to 1.84m.

Glenn Moore: Sport England - Councils make cuts and political class has lost interest

Part of the reason for the FA’s “disappointment” with the cut is the lack of time, it claims, for its current plans to have an impact. It is set to launch a new campaign aimed to keep 16-year-olds in the game – football’s participation among children remains high – but a further funding cut of 20 per cent remains a strong possibility as the participation figures are likely to fall again when the next results are announced in June following another dire winter.

Rugby union and cricket also suffered falls but have not had a cut – instead they have been put “on notice” – because Sport England is convinced by the plans those sports presented for raising participation.

“To be fair to the FA in the last three or four years they have focused much harder on the grass-roots,” said Jennie Price, chief executive of Sport England. “They are more engaged than they have been for some time. They do want to get it right but they need to accelerate their efforts. We want the FA to succeed but this should act as a warning to them that they’ve got to improve.

“I have a direct relationship with Alex Horne and that hasn’t always been the case with previous FA chief executives. I think [chairman] Greg Dyke really cares about every part of the game. But they need to change some of what they are doing and if this focuses even more attention on it then that can only be a good thing.”

Sport England will leave the £1.6m available to football via a new “Cities of Football” project – it wants local authorities, clubs or even private companies who run five-a-side venues to bid for funds, whether that be for extra coaches or improving facilities to act as an “example” to the FA.

How 1972 paper shows problem has been left to drift for decades

Horne, the FA’s general secretary, claimed its efforts had been hindered by a lack of time and pressure on facilities. Four out of five grass-roots facilities are run by local authorities, many of whom are having to carry out large scale cuts. “It’s naturally disappointing to learn that Sport England is cutting its funding, especially at a time when the challenges faced by the grass-roots are so acute,” he said. “It is especially disappointing as Sport England agreed and began funding our joint plan only in August and today’s decision is based on measurement undertaken just two months later in October.

“The government need to be careful because this money is being spent on sports participation on one hand, while on the other local authorities are cutting the local provision of sports facilities.

“Grass-roots football is played on facilities almost exclusively owned and maintained by local authorities. A combination of severe weather, increased pitch-hire costs and reduced maintenance spend has made this a very difficult time for clubs. This challenge – to ensure a much better provision of quality, affordable grass-roots facilities – is one we are determined to address.”

Price accepts that the provision of facilities is an issue but points out it is one that equally affects other outdoor team sports, such as cricket and rugby union – and football receives more funding.

Five other sports also had their funding cut. Between them golf, netball, mountaineering, rowing and hockey had a total of £1.2m removed.

Sport England: Funding cuts

Football Association £1.6m

England Golf Partnership £496,000

England Netball £275,000

British Rowing £236,000

England Hockey £137,000

British Mountaineering Council £97,000

*Badminton England, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Rugby Football Union have all been placed “on notice”. Their participation levels have fallen but Sport England have been convinced by their plans to halt their declines. They have to improve participation levels by December or face a funding cut.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?